Conveyor belt sushi always had a kernel of fun at its core. Invented by Yoshiaki Shiraishi, the concept of serving tuna or sea urchin via rotating plates not only helped his understaffed business, but it also introduced an interactive element to dining.
Patrons watch the dishes pass by and they pull whatever whets their appetite. If they aren't fast enough, they could miss a plate and they'll have to wait for its return. The idea has a gamelike element as diners hunt for the sushi they want, chat with friends and of course eat the fresh fish.
Despite its ludic characteristics, conveyor belt sushi has not inspired many video games, but Nintendo is always up for a challenge. Working with the studio indieszero, the Japanese developers created "Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido."
The addictive puzzle game revolves around conveyor belt concept. Players take on the role of Musashi (Players can choose the gender of hero), an orphan living in the Republic after a conflict called the Sushi Struggles. The protagonist and his friends are having a tough time finding food until one day he runs across a man named Franklin and his sushi sprite.
These magical creatures have the ability to make sushi, and Musashi's first bite has him hooked. Before he can share the food, the Empire captures Franklin and Musashi nearly starves alone in the wilderness. Fortunately, he comes across his own sushi sprite named Jinrai. The two resolve to rescue Franklin and defeat the Empire, which seeks to hoard all the sushi in the world.
Yes, the premise sounds like fevered hashish daydream, but it's the gameplay that helps players buy into a world where Musashi battles enemies by eating sushi. Players can choose to play with the Switch controller or touch-screen, though the former is cumbersome while the latter is more natural.
Similar to games like "Bejeweled," players have to match colored sushi plates that roll down the conveyor belt. The plates have to be adjacent to count and players have up to 7 seconds to connect them to continue the combo. Completing a set creates a pile of plates and Musashi tosses those dishes at a rival lowering their health. When rivals lose all their energy, they lose.
It sounds simple enough, but "Sushi Strikers" requires fast thinking and dexterity as plates relentlessly cycle through. Players encounter make-or-break moments when they're piling up plates at the risk of losing the chance at gathering other sushi dish colors. Other times, they have to keep an eye on sushi sprite powers, which add a layer of depth to the gameplay.
Players can use three sushi sprites in a battle. Each creature has an ability that turns the tide of battle. Jinrai can change all the sushi plates to one color enabling huge damage-dealing stacks. Elekan raises a shield that reduces damage. These sprites can be leveled up and evolved, adding a "Pokemon"-type element in which players have to strategize and create a team that can counter the powers of an opponent.
Aside from that, "Sushi Striker" has combat nuances that emphasize order and timing in battles. For example, if players toss plate piles of the same color one after another, they deal more damage. Timing also plays an important role, as sushi sprites such as Cryten can neutralize damaging attacks. The developers also tossed in wild cards such random power-up and traps on the field.
Players learn these points finer points through a campaign that follows predictable anime plot points. Although players know what story beats are coming next, "Sushi Striker" surprises players with diversity of opponents they encounter over a fairly long campaign.
Combine that with online and local multiplayer, puzzle challenges and a score and grading system and "Sushi Striker" has plenty to keep players busy. It has plenty of replayability as players can level up their hero and their sprites. It's a compelling mix that could be Nintendo's sleeper hit of the summer.
'SUSHI STRIKER: THE WAY OF SUSHIDO'
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS
Rating: Everyone ___
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